Surprise positional outlook: Second base
Ian Kinsler has emerged as one of the top all-around players in the game. At the plate, Kinsler has shown plenty of versatility. In his career, Kinsler has 95 or more at-bats at every spot in the lineup but cleanup, where's he's actually never batted. By far, his highest total is in the leadoff spot, where he was in 2011. Kinsler hit .257 and much was made of how the batting average was low by his standards. But he did so much more as a leadoff hitter. He had a .848 OPS, third-most among AL leadoff hitters and his .356 on-base percentage is fourth. Considering the average, that's saying something. Kinsler's 84 walks were tops among leadoff hitters by a huge margin (Austin Jackson was second with 55).
But as the OPS shows, Kinsler has power. His 32 home runs were tops among any AL leadoff hitter. When Kinsler stepped to the plate, the game could be 1-0 in a heartbeat. That concerned every playoff opponent that faced Texas in 2011 (and Kinsler led off Game 4 in Tampa Bay with a homer, if you'll remember, the day the Rangers clinched in Adrian Beltre's three-homer game).
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He stole 30 bases and did it despite an ankle that didn't feel 100 percent. Kinsler said this offseason that he had a PRP procedure to help relieve some of the pain on his ankle, which hadn't felt right since he rolled it in spring training in 2010. Now he feels 100 percent, which should make him even more effective.
|RANGERS POSITION OUTLOOK|
Jan. 23: Catcher
Jan. 24: First base
Jan. 25: Second base
Jan. 26: Third base
Jan. 27: Shortstop
Jan. 30: Left field
Jan. 31: Center field
Feb. 1: Right field
Feb. 2: DH/Utility
Feb. 3: Bench
Feb. 6: No. 1 starter
Feb. 7: No. 2 starter
Feb. 8: No. 3 starter
Feb. 9: No. 4 starter
Feb. 10: No. 5 starter
Feb. 13: Middle/long relief
Feb. 14: Late-inning relief
Feb. 15: Coaches
Feb. 16: Manager
Feb. 17: Front office
There was talk among fans that Kinsler's best spot in the order might be third or sixth. But I disagree. His versatility makes him dangerous in the top spot. Could he drive in more runs later in the order? Maybe. But he creates so many opportunities for others by getting on base and then getting himself into scoring position with big bats coming up behind him.
Kinsler, BTW, was ranked No. 15 overall by ESPN.com's Eric Karabell. That's the highest ranking for any Rangers player heading into the 2012 fantasy season. It's because of Kinsler's production and the fact that he does it at second base, a position that isn't deep in the fantasy world.
This should be a fun year for Kinsler. He's completely healthy, coming off a season where he played in 155 games, and was solid in the playoffs.
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